Public forum brings community together to discuss local opioid crisis

Join the Port Alberni Community Action Team, public health officer and others Oct. 24

“We’re all in this together.”

That sentiment is at the heart of the Port Alberni Community Action Team’s efforts to address opioid use and overdose deaths in the Alberni Valley, and its public information event next week.

The Port Alberni CAT was established along with CATs in other areas as a local way to address the province’s opioid crisis, declared a public health emergency in 2016. The Port Alberni group continues to work to: provide more overdose prevention services; provide more opportunities for meaningful peer engagement, such as increased representation from people with lived experience – those dealing with substance use issues and family of those impacted. The group continues to focus its attention and efforts at decreasing stigma and reducing barriers to the access of services for people who use drugs.

“Our No. 1 goal is to decrease the number of opioid poisonings and overdose deaths,” says CAT coordinator Mark Lacroix.

As part of the continuing, community-wide efforts, the CAT hosts a public information event Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Barclay Hotel. All are welcome to learn more about the current opioid situation, what work has been done so far, and what else needs to be done.

The keynote speaker for the event is Dr. Paul Hasselback, the region’s public health officer, who will be joined by experts from the Alberni Valley working in their respective fields, and in-line with what the federal government has defined as the “four-pillar approach” to the Canadian Drug and Substances Strategy:

  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Harm reduction
  • Enforcement

Recognizing that some people in the community question the effectiveness of these pillars, the event is an open and welcoming opportunity for people to come together and learn the facts and the evidence that supports all areas of approach to dealing with this crisis.

In looking at the broader issue or the impacts on the community, “sometimes we can forget about treatment and prevention – there are a lot of successes and positive things happening in the community and we should focus on these things too,” Lacroix says.

READ MORE: Why words matter: Battling the stigma of drug use and addiction

Join the community in an evidence-based discussion about opioid use, Thursday, Oct. 24 in the Barclay Room of the Barclay Hotel. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the event beginning at 7 p.m. All are welcome and refreshments will also be served.

In addition to the public forum on Oct. 24, the Alberni CAT has a full calendar of additional events – learn more on their Facebook page. CAT representatives are also making a presentation to Port Alberni city council on Oct. 15.

READ MORE: ‘Every person has a family, a story and a future’

READ MORE: Substance use has no boundaries

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